While still living in New Jersey, and dealing with what could some years be described as hopeless and never ending winters, I coped by visiting greenhouses and nurseries all but financially stunted by the unrelenting snow and ice. It was the smell of fresh dirt I sought. Our senses can act as mighty altruists to our well being; this, I believe, is by design. For me, my sense of smell is both friend and foe. The first lilacs to bloom in spring, or the essence of moist, unfrozen earth, promising to put forth life; friend. The waft of warm Croissants that have just left the oven…for me…foe! In my case, too many ‘give-ins’ every time I’ve smelled fresh baked goodies has me on an endless quest for lighter hips! Yet such is the POWER of this sense for me.
A much loved destination of mine back in the day was Duke Gardens, the brainchild of Doris Duke, heiress to her father’s fortune from American Tobacco Company. There, one could tour one of the most remarkable glass house collections of fauna in the entire of the United States. It is recorded that Miss Duke created the eleven themes in honor of her father. And to get my sniff on, I could make an appointment for a tour, be added to the minimal guest list for that day, and motor down with a measly $5 in hand. No real planning or great price to speak of that would ultimately provide me just over an hour’s worth of sensory rejuvenation. Unfortunately, and due to the overwhelming cost of maintenance to the glass house, it was dismantled in 2008. Still, the 2,700 acre property still boasts environmental programming and exploration, and are open to the public year round except major holidays, and admission is free.
Shift now to my living here in Charleston, South Carolina. Winter is still MIGHTY COLD, but generally without the snow and ice. I still visit greenhouses and nurseries to ‘invite Spring’ in my mind. An additional way I have learned to hasten the season and perk up my senses are to create Springtime (or any season, really) blooming baskets. Again, I have picked up a small bunch of these trophy containers at yard sales and flea markets over the years, buying what inspires me. And, most important, I immediately outfit them with a clear plastic plant saucer found at Lowes, Home Depot or the like. Next, I cut into longish strips and crumple brown grocery bags over and over until they are pliable enough to snake around the inside bottom of the container I have chosen. This added layer will lend both support and height to my display. This season, I chose three unique containers to dazzle my guests with, placed about the house for a breakfast I held for some friends. I hit the big box stores for the 3″ pots of whatever was either in bloom, had unique pattern or texture to it, or screamed SPRING! I came home with everything from begonias, to hypoestes (pink polka dot plant), to various miniature ferns, a dwarf hyacinth (amazing scent), and some daffodils. Place your pots, after a thorough watering, in and around your crumpled paper making sure to list or tilt them slightly outward as if ‘growing’ on a mound. Once your pots are arranged and seem secure, go in with whatever you’ve got that can be used as pretty filler. Here, I prefer green moss. A bag will run you around $8 at a hobby store, and a little goes a long way. Another design aspect I enjoy is to tuck in little bitties I’ve collected, again, from yard sales mainly. Moss-covered grapevine spheres, faux nesting bird eggs, faux bird nests, Easter anything, and hobby store butterflies make great tuck-ins. Because I’ve lined my container with a saucer, watering from this point is easy. The paper bags will be thrown away after the display has passed its prime, so water lightly but whenever necessary.
This basket isn’t pretty on its own; I lined with coconut fiber (not a fan,but couldn’t find anything else) and a clear plastic saucer; crumpled up brown bags for “building”
Arranged my pots on a tilt and filled in with hobby or crafters moss
A different container, this one a two-tiered French ‘loop basket;’ the bunnies are actually ornaments of some sort that my great friend Rosemary found for me at a yard sale – so adorable
This nest came from the dent and scratch rack at Tuesday Morning – at approximately 4″ around, it was a great find for $3
French Loop Basket with Zinnias and Easter bitties